Entries in Coast Guard (20)


Coast Guard Search Continues for Missing Texas Fishermen

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- The Coast Guard continues to search for four missing fishermen whose boat sank off the Texas Gulf Coast on Friday.

According to Petty Officer Richard Brahm, there were initially five fishermen on the 50-foot vessel, but only one of them was able to safely get into a life raft. He was picked up on Friday morning, having been spotted by the Coast Guard’s Falcon Jet.

The other four men are still missing, and the search continues as of Saturday afteroon.

“So far we've covered about two thousand square miles, which is a little bit smaller than the state of Delaware, and we're just going to continue searching,” Brahm said.

“We found some debris patterns; someone had clung on to any of those things,” Brahm explained. “That's the kind of thing we're looking for and so that also gives us a good pattern to follow for our search pattern.”

“The Coast Guard is always hopeful.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


One Dead, Five Injured During California Sailboat Race

U.S. Coast Guard(SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND, Calif.) -- One person was killed and five more injured after a sailboat lost its ability to steer and broke apart during a race Friday night.

The 30-foot sailboat, named Uncontrollable Urge, was competing in a race near San Clemente Island in Southern California when its rudder failed, according to a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard.

A mayday call was issued around 9:26 p.m., but the crew initially said they were not in need of assistance. They did not initially feel the need to accept help from the other racers or the Coast Guard, instead looking to a commercial salvage company to help save the boat.

Weather conditions prevented the salvage company boat from launching, and the situation on the Uncontrollable Urge worsened. An attempt to anchor the boat around 11 p.m. failed, causing the boat to drift closer to San Clemente Island.

When the boat entered the crashing surf, the sailors were forced to abandon the vessel.

A Coast Guard helicopter picked up the crew of six, but one sailor, whose name has not made public, was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Federal Agent Killed When Drug Smuggler Rams Coast Guard Boat

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) -- A federal law enforcement officer was killed when a dope smuggler’s small craft rammed a Coast Guard boat in a midnight interception of a marijuana load off the California coast, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Four suspects are in custody and a manhunt is under way for at least two others who may have escaped to a coastal island.

According to sources, the incident took place early Sunday morning, at approximately 1 a.m., when the Coast Guard intercepted two boats -- a pleasure craft and a panga boat, which is a small, fast launch -- near San Clemente Island, in Santa Barbara County.

The Coast Guard, according to initial reports, took the pleasure craft into custody and detained two occupants.

The Coast Guard cutter crew then lowered their smaller boat into the water in order to take custody of the individuals on the panga boat.  At that point, the operation turned deadly.

As the Coast Guard small craft approached the panga, the driver of the panga rammed it and actually drove over the top of the boat, striking two agents and killing one of them.

Other members of the Coast Guard team took the occupants of the panga into custody, making for a total of four suspects in custody -- two from the pleasure craft and two from the panga.

Sources said that authorities believed that two additional suspects were dropped off on Santa Cruz Island just before the interception of the two boats.

The Santa Barbara Sheriff's SWAT team was working with the U.S. Border Patrol on Sunday, searching Santa Cruz Island for additional suspects.

The small Coast Guard Boat that was rammed was taken to Oxnard.  Coast Guard officials said they planned to transport this boat, as well as the pleasure craft and panga boat, to the Coast Guard Base in the Port of Los Angeles.

According to sources, the Coast Guard Investigative Services are requesting assistance from the Los Angeles Police Department Scientific Investigation Division (SID) forensics unit and photo unit.

Arrangements are under way to secure the vessels at the Port until Monday morning, when SID can respond.

The panga was operated by Mexican nationals, and the cargo was marijuana, law enforcement sources said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Body Believed to Be Missing Worker Found Near Site of Oil Rig Blast

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A body believed to be one of the workers missing since an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded was recovered late Saturday night in the water near the platform.

A private dive team hired by Houston-based Black Elk Energy found the remains of an unidentified person Saturday night, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Vega said.

The Coast Guard has suspended its search, but John Hoffman, president and CEO of Black Elk Energy, which owns the platform, vowed to continue looking for the second worker.

The two workers jumped from the burning platform into the Gulf of Mexico after their oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana Friday.

The Coast Guard had been working for more than 24 hours to find the rig workers, whose names and genders have not been released. Air and sea units searched for what they believed would be two survivors.

But on Saturday night, the search was suspended.

The rig was not producing oil on Friday morning when the explosion occurred. Black Hawk Energy, which owns the platform, said one of 22 contractors on board mistakenly grabbed a blow torch instead of a saw to cut a pipe line that had 28 gallons of oil inside, igniting the blast. Everyone on board was employed by Grand Isle Shipyard, not Black Elk.

Of the 11 injured workers who were air-lifted to safety, four had severe burns. No deaths have been reported.

The rig had been expected to begin oil production again later this month. Because the rig was offline, the Coast Guard said there is little risk of a major spill.

"The environmental threat as we know, there were 28 gallons that potentially were in that 3-inch line, 75 feet long, which would equate to 28 gallons of product," said Ed Cubanski, chief of the U.S. Coast Guard response.

As of Friday evening, an oil sheen spread to half a square mile from the 28 gallons, which is less than what an SUV gas tank might hold.

The Louisiana explosion is a reminder of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill about 85 miles away, which made headlines this week when BP agreed to a $4.5 billion settlement and two BP officials were charged with manslaughter. But that spill amounted to 210 million gallons, and resulted in 11 deaths.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Coast Guard Calls Off Search for Missing Oil Rig Workers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Coast Guard called off the search for two workers Saturday who jumped from the burning platform into the Gulf of Mexico after their oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana Friday.

The Coast Guard had been working for more than 24 hours to find the rig workers, whose names and genders have not been released. Air and sea units searched for what they believed would be two survivors.

"The search is suspended pending further developments," the Coast Guard said in a news release Saturday night.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Superstorm Sandy Ship Rescue Fills Chopper with Cheers

U.S. Coast Guard(ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.) -- Cheers filled a Coast Guard rescue helicopter Monday each time its crew plucked sailors from the churning sea roiled up by Hurricane Sandy, but one sailor from the stricken tall ship HMS Bounty was in critical condition -- and Coast Guard ships and planes are still searching for one more crew member.

Fourteen people were rescued early Monday morning from the HMS Bounty. A 15th person was pulled from the Atlantic hours later, but was unresponsive. That person, identified as Claudene Christian, was taken to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City, N.C.

"She is here. Right now she is in critical condition," hospital spokesman Patrick Detwiler said.

Crews are still looking for Robin Walbridge, 63. The Coast Guard identified Walbridge as the ship's captain.

Christian and Walbridge were washed into the sea when the three-masted replica of the historic ship began taking on water. The crew was abandoning ship during the night when the hurricane flung them into the sea.

The Bounty, 180-foot replica of the ship featured in the film Mutiny on the Bounty, was 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., when the owner called saying she'd lost contact with the crew Sunday night.

A C130 plane spotted the wreckage Monday morning and Coast Guard Lt. Jane Peña co-piloted one of two rescue choppers to the site. One sailor was spotted adrift by himself wearing an insulated suit called a Gumby suit. Pena said he was spotted by the strobe lights attached to the suit.

The C130 crew directed the helicopter to a covered liferaft that had seven survivors aboard. Video of the rescue shows a Coast Guard swimmer being lowered into the water and attaching the sailors to the hoist line and raising them into the helicopter one at a time.

Peña said her rescue team were able to get an additional four survivors on board before they began to run out of fuel and had to head to head back to shore.

A second chopper picked up the remaining sailors.

The survivors were taken to Air Station Elizabeth City on the North Carolina coast.

The Bounty left Connecticut last week for St. Petersburg, Fla. The crew had been in constant contact with the National Hurricane Center and tried to go around the storm, according to the director of the HMS Bounty Organization, Tracie Simonin. But the ship got caught in Sandy's fury and began taking on water. The cold water survival suits, also called Gumby suits, staved off hypothermia for the shipwrecked sailors.

Initial reports said there were 17 people on the Bounty, but the manifest indicated the ship only had 16 people aboard.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NJ Yacht Hoax Linked to Texas Prank

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Coast Guard announced today that the hoax distress call made on June 11 by a man claiming to be the captain of a yacht that exploded off the coast of Sandy Hook, N.J., was linked to another hoax call made in Texas on May 20.

The case of the Houston-area vessel, the Skylark, came to the attention of New York area Coast Guard investigators only recently because the incident had been classified as unresolved rather than a hoax. The smaller-scale hoax, a distress call for six people, had many similarities to the Sandy Hook call, which involved more than 20 people.

Both calls came from a land-based radio, both specifically contacted a specific Coast Guard radio channel, and both came over a VHF frequency.

Special Agent Michael Donnelly of the Coast Guard Investigative Service said there were clear linguistic similarities between the calls. The voices were almost identical, and the person speaking used nautical expressions such as "taking on water" and referred to the passengers onboard as "souls."

The rescue effort in Sandy Hook cost more than $85,000 and occupied the time of more than 200 responders as well as a fleet of helicopters and boats.

The New York Coast Guard believes the Sandy Hook call originated from an area that stretches from northern Staten Island to the George Washington Bridge. The size of the area makes it unlikely the investigation will find the prankster, so the Coast Guard is calling on the public to help, offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the prosecution of the offender.

If found and convicted, the offender could face up to six years in prison.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Yacht Explosion Hoaxster Was 'Captain' About to Jump Ship

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Coast Guard has launched an investigation into a yacht explosion hoax call made by a realistic-sounding "captain" that sent a costly armada of over 200 responders and a fleet of helicopters on a wild goose chase in the Atlantic Ocean.

"We're taking this potential hoax very seriously," Capt. Gregory P. Hitchen of the Coast Guard said at a news conference Tuesday. "We're offering a $3,000 reward for any information assisting us to find the perpetrator of this hoax."

"This person put the public at risk and put our first responders at risk. It's always dangerous to launch a helicopter over the Atlantic for a search," Hitchen said. "More importantly, we diverted several first responders in the area...from actual search and rescue areas to look for a vessel that had not actually sunk."

At 4:20 p.m. on Monday, a radio caller told the Coast Guard that there had been an explosion on a yacht called the Blind Date, located about 17.5 miles off the coast of Sandy Hook, N.J.

The caller reported that seven of the 21 passengers had suffered serious burns. The caller said that all of the passengers had evacuated the ship and were in life boats.

But after an extensive search, rescue boats and helicopters couldn't find a trace of the vessel or any victims.

"We became concerned that we saw no indication of life rafts or a sunken vessel," Hitchen said. "When they arrived on scene, they should have seen life rafts, which are usually orange and red. They should have seen smoke and probably an oil slick."

Hitchen said that while there are over 300 fake cases per year in the northeastern U.S., the caller reporting the incident made this one unique.

"There was a certain amount of detail in the call that we don't normally encounter with other hoax calls," Hitchen said. "This person was somewhat calm, but giving us a convincing story."

"We had a specific number of people on-board, who had injuries, a blow by blow on how the boat was filling up with water," he said.

The male caller said he was the captain of the ship and that the vessel was sinking. At least two calls were placed before the caller said he was getting in a life raft and transmissions stopped.

"I've been here since 2007 and this is the biggest hoax in regard to the number of helicopters and folks who had actually responded to the scene," Hitchen said.

The prankster now faces a maximum of five to 10 years in prison for the federal crime, a $250,000 fine and a reimbursement to the government for the cost of the search.

The total cost to the Coast Guard was initially determined to be $88,000 and rising. This figure doesn't include the city's costs from deploying the New York Police Department and the Fire Department of New York, which Hitchen estimated was equal to or greater than the cost to the Coast Guard.

Officials believe the distress call originated over land in New Jersey or southern New York. The call was made from a radio, not a cell phone, and was only picked up by one antenna, making it impossible to pinpoint the exact origin of the call.

By 10 p.m. on Monday, the active search was suspended with "clear indication that it was some sort of probable hoax," Hitchen said.

"Even if we think a case is a potential hoax, we always go in with the assumption that it is not. We do not want to under-react to an actual emergency," he said.

When asked what the motive could be for the prank, Hitchen said, "Some people just want attention. That's usually the biggest reason. They like to see all the response and active search for something they caused...It's very strange."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Four Dead in Yacht Race Crash Off California, Mexico Coast

Fogstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) – Four crew members have been killed after a yacht apparently crashed into a larger boat during a race off the coast of California and Mexico this past week, authorities said.

The accident occurred Friday night or early Saturday morning. The 37-foot sailboat, named the Aegean, had been taking part in a 125-mile race from Newport, California to Ensenada, Mexico, when it was reported missing early Saturday morning.

Around 1:30 a.m. Saturday, the boat’s image vanished from the online race tracking system, prompting a Coast Guard search that led to the discovery of the boat’s wreckage near the Coronado Islands in Mexico, according to the Newport Ocean Sailing Association.

Four members of the crew were found dead.

None of the bodies have been identified, the Newport Ocean Sailing Association reported on its website.

US Coast Guard Petty Officer Henry Dunphy in San Diego said it’s still not clear what happened.

“There will be an investigation to determine exactly what happened. We’re just not sure at this point. We’re going to be looking into it,” Dunphy said.

These would be the first fatalities in the 65-year history of the race, according to NOSA’s website, but it is California’s second ocean racing accident this month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama to Give Coast Guard Cutter Sober Send-Off

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two years and two whacks of a champagne bottle after she first christened it, first lady Michelle Obama will on Saturday formally commission the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, a ship she sponsored as part of her Joining Forces initiative.

Obama will attend a ceremony on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif., marking the beginning of active service for the Stratton, the White House announced. Officials said the vessel will patrol the coastline and conduct missions necessary for national defense.

“As the ship’s sponsor, the first lady will ceremonially give the order to bring the ship to life, at which time the crew will board the Stratton with much fanfare,” the White House said in a statement.

The ship is named after Capt. Dorothy Stratton, who led the 11,000-strong Coast Guard Women’s Reserve during World War II.  The first lady is expected to meet with women veterans who served alongside Stratton during her visit.

“As a woman, and as a mother of two daughters, as an American, I stand in awe of her life of service,” Mrs. Obama said in 2010.  "And after all these years later, all of us -- whether you’re a woman or a man, Coast Guard or another service, whether you’re military or civilian -- every American can be inspired by her example.”

Mrs. Obama christened the unfinished ship by breaking a champagne bottle across the hull -- a well-worn tradition -- during a Pascgoula, Miss., ceremony in July 2010.  No champagne will be involved in the commissioning.

Obama’s West Coast trip will also include a campaign fundraiser and participation in the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, where she will honor singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her recent outreach to victims of tornadoes and floods.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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